- It’s September! Had to put the Sixpack on a one-day wait so I could lead with that—I drained every available sixpack in sight for the month of August. We are done with summer themes and are allowing ourselves to point rather fully at week one. In other words, we are more and more removed of what the perception of this football season is to folks and creeping up on an actual reality! (Gonna be a theme today.) I have been staying as medium as possible until the calendar switched over to this month. My hopes are up. I didn’t realize until I started writing this just how much I was protecting myself from the possibility of no NFL. I never held out much hope for high school and college football, but I never wanted to face the prospect of a fall without the NFL. It was never lost on me that the global pandemic didn’t get off and really running until right after the Super Bowl. So until now, the perception of the pandemic is that it has not interfered in any way with the NFL (in so many ways, we know that it has...that’s a reality).
- I hate talking to people who think that just because the name is changed, and the
ownersteward is staring down the barrel of sexual assault accusations and allegations, and we are on our millionth coach, with loads of unproven talent on the roster, in a division with teams that every gambler on the planet would bet on before ours, that somehow people like me/us aren’t unbelievably excited to see the burgundy and gold take the field. That is just a case of folks not paying attention. I have been all in from a fan standpoint—along with all of you fine folks—through a rather dismal era of DC football. People like us don’t just tap out. I FULLY expect Washington to shock the world and come out of the gates playing a competitive brand of football. I FULLY expect our team to play a disciplined, conservative style that maximizes the talent that is present on this roster. I expect these things because I FULLY believe that Ron Rivera is the caliber of man who is up to the task of delivering. In this department, the reality is being obscured by the perception. Of course Ron Rivera is a professional. Of course Ron Rivera is not going to show up to an NFL season unprepared. Just because this team has done so with an alarming frequency in the past, that is no reason to ignore what is real: It wasn’t Ron Rivera’s fault before 2020!
- Sure, my viewing habits have changed. I stopped going to FedEx every week because of the manner in which the steward allowed the Sunday in-person experience to deteriorate. Shit...DC fans solved the whole “in-person vs. virtual” debate years ago! We pretty much all opted for the at-home, remote-learning model. It’s like we have been prepping for this pandemic for a decade! As a result, our gameday plans are set. Our gatherings (following all local CDC guidelines of course) are primed for optimal enjoyment. This deals more with my perception of myself. I always saw myself as the guy who “had to be there.” I did have to be there, and so I was there. In fact, I was the last guy there. Two different tailgates I was a part of disintegrated in front of my eyes. Groups of guys I sat with gradually opted out. There were a few games I attended over the last few seasons where I didn’t know who I was going to be sitting with when I arrived in the parking lot that morning. It was because I couldn’t imagine not being there. Whereas I was once jealous of the people always going to the games, I became jealous of the at-home parties. I had to change my perception, and make it match my reality.
- Who among us has not grown at least somewhat accustomed to...soft...expectations for this team from a national standpoint? I get it. People outside this town don’t believe in Washington football. That has zero bearing on my lifelong history of loving this team. In less than two weeks, my undefeated Football Team will take the field against a a division rival and we will be potentially huge underdogs. I can live with looking forward to that! The national perception of this team matters very little because the reality is...
- What does anybody know about ANYONE right now? Sure, as an organization we are the equivalent of a row of port-a-johns set on fire. Sure, our list of possible Pro Bowlers isn’t going to use up all the ink in anyone’s very, very well-used pen. But Ron Rivera has enjoyed the BENEFIT of a “batten-down-the-hatches” environment for the last six months. The news cycle in Washington, DC has been completely focused on politics in a presidential election year with almost no positive distraction from local football (it’s been hard, y’all). Ron has had his players to himself. This is a very, very good thing. If and when you are looking to change a culture, you can do way worse than having a vacuum-sealed situation to change it in. Again, I get that this organization has been making its share of headlines—it has been making a lot of people’s share of headlines, but other than a Harmon injury here, and a Guice-release there, Ron Rivera has been able to achieve a pretty solid lockdown with this team. It is VERY safe to say that there is no script people can count on when we take the field against Philly. Sure, people think they know what’s going to happen. It’s clear what people are betting will happen, but none of it is based on anything REAL...yet.
- It will be real in 12 days. Reality will set in and a brand new perception of burgundy and gold football will be welcomed. Do you really think Dwayne Haskins won’t be ready to execute competently? Do you really think our defensive line won’t be able to handle anything Philly can throw at us? Do you really believe Jack Del Rio won’t have his linebackers ready to exploit the advantages that come with such a talented defensive line? Do you really believe a team can completely shut down Terry McLaurin? Do you really believe that—between the whistles and on the sidelines—this is a WHOLE NEW BALLGAME for Washington football? Take all of that and bundle it into a single bet. Take all of that and try and convince even the biggest cynic among us that anyone really KNOWS that the answers to these questions all go against us. Now’s the time of year to own optimism. It’s easy, which is why everyone owns some in September, but take all of this and tell me that the things that have gone against us in the past—again, on the field—matter at all now. They don’t. The whole damn world has changed. Inside and out. Everything about this football team points to something better (well, except for the morally bankrupt idiot in the owner’s suite...for now). No matter what anyone says or thinks today, what’s real is that nothing real has yet been determined. That alone is a huge step up...and is changing my perception for the better.
Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays
Perception vs. Reality...reality always wins—except when it just doesn’t.